The ACS has raised concerns about the space, cost, staff time and hygiene issues relating to Gove’s proposed scheme

The Association of Convenience Stores has slammed Michael Gove’s ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme which could see retailers inundated with customers returning plastic, glass and metal containers.

The proposed system, which has split opinion between retailers and suppliers, could be implemented by 2021 at a cost of £1.4bn.

ACS chief executive James Lowman has urged Gove to instead tackle the core problem of consumers not recycling plastic when on the move.

Lowman described the proposed system as a blunt instrument which would undermine existing kerbside recycling infrastructure.

The environment secretary unveiled plans to introduce the scheme this week.

Gove outlined his support for an approach that could require retailers to take back plastic, glass, metal, HDPE bottles and other containers as part of the proposed deposit return scheme, with no limits on the size of the container that can be returned.

The ACS has raised concerns about the space, cost, staff time and hygiene.

Health risks may also be associated with an ‘all-in’ system, in particular retailers taking back containers manually across the till. This is the model currently being developed in Scotland.

“We are disappointed that the secretary is moving towards an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme that will place significant burdens on local shops,” said Lowman. “Taking back glass and plastic bottles of all sizes could present hygiene and health risks to store colleagues handling soiled and broken drinks containers, and would require significant space for return machines capable of handling this breadth of packaging, and storing it securely.”

The BRC echoes the ACS’s concerns, warning the new system could cost retailers an extra £600m to introduce.